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The Nuisance Dark Rover Ant Species Swarms Year Round In Arizona Where They Are Among The Most Commonly Encountered Insect Pests Within Homes

The Nuisance Dark Rover Ant Species Swarms Year Round In Arizona Where They Are Among The Most Commonly Encountered Insect Pests Within Homes

A few ant species belonging to the Brachymyrmex genus have been documented as household pests in the southern US where they are often referred to as rover ants. The non-native rover ant species, B. musculus, is one of the most commonly encountered ant pests in homes located in Phoenix and Tucson. In recent years, another non-native rover ant species, Brachymyrmex patagonicus, has become a common household pest in the southeastern states. In addition to the southeast, this species has also managed to establish a habitat in southern Arizona. This species is commonly known as the dark rover ant, and they have frequently been found infesting homes in Tucson and Phoenix, but they are strangely absent from all other areas in the state.

Dark rover ants are nuisance pests in homes located in Tucson and Phoenix, and they often establish nests within concealed indoor areas, but some infestation cases see foraging workers invade homes in large numbers from nests located in yards. These ants also swarm into houses all year round in Tucson, but swarmers emerge only during the spring and summer months in all other US locations where they have become established. Obviously, dark rover ants exhibit many peculiar pest behaviors in southern Arizona, and unsurprisingly, researchers know very little about the biology and foraging habits of these species.

In Tucson and Phoenix, dark rover ants establish nests within soil located below leaf litter, mulch, firewood, and around tree stumps in residential yards and urban parks. These ant pests become particularly abundant on irrigated lawns due to their need for large amounts of water. Many residents have noticed that dark rover ants tend to establish nests in wall voids located in bathrooms and kitchens where running water provides the pests with adequate moisture. Dark rover ants invade homes in large numbers during particularly hot and dry periods during the summer, which is also when nests are most likely to become established indoors.

Have you found ants in or around swimming pools during the summer in recent years?

 

 

 

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The Non-Native Field Cockroach Was First Discovered In Arizona Where It Remains Abundant On Irrigated Residential Yards

The Non-Native Field Cockroach Was First Discovered In Arizona Where It Remains Abundant On Irrigated Residential Yards

Despite Arizona’s extremely dry climate where natural water sources are relatively hard to come by for insects, a surprisingly large number of water-loving cockroach species are abundant in the state. According to researchers with the University of Arizona, the most commonly encountered cockroach species found in homes in the state include German, American, Oriental, and brown-banded cockroaches. Two additional cockroach species, Turkestan and Surinam cockroaches, have become common in households in certain areas of Arizona.

The Surinam cockroach is a major pest of greenhouses throughout the state, but this species only invades homes on rare occasions, as they prefer to remain outdoors. The Turkestan cockroach, on the other hand, has become a common household pest in Phoenix and Tucson since it was introduced into Arizona back in 1982. Although this species prefers to maintain an outdoor habitat, they invade homes in large numbers during the month of June when their population numbers reach peak levels. This species is also notable for its annoying habit of flying around porch lights and around indoor lights during the summer months. The field cockroach is another little known, but common roach pest species in Arizona where it inhabits irrigated lawns, sometimes in massive numbers during the summer.

The field cockroach is likely native to southeast Asia, and it was first discovered in the US back when numerous specimens were recovered in Arizona back in 1933. These roaches have also been found faraway from their preferred moisture rich environment in arid desert areas, indicating that this adaptive species may be spreading to all eco-regions in Arizona. The field cockroach generally prefers to remain outdoors where it feeds on decaying plant matter in residential and urban areas, but during particularly dry periods, these roaches seek moisture within homes and buildings in significant numbers. Field cockroach infestations in homes can sometimes be eradicated by removing decaying lawn matter and other food sources surrounding foundations.

Do you find that lawn clippings and other forms of decaying plant matter in your yard may contribute to occasional pest issues?

 

 

 

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When Was The Last Time Someone Died From A Scorpion Sting In Arizona, And How Deadly Were The Arachnids In The State Before The Advent Of Antivenin Treatment?

When Was The Last Time Someone Died From A Scorpion Sting In Arizona, And How Deadly Were The Arachnids In The State Before The Advent Of Antivenin Treatment?

More than 1,800 scorpion species have been documented worldwide, including 50 in the Sonoran Desert. Given the abundance of scorpion species inhabiting isolated desert areas where fauna have yet to be adequately documented, many more scorpion species likely remain undiscovered. While this may be hard to believe, new scorpion species are discovered frequently all over the world, even in Arizona. For example, a 2 inch scorpion was discovered near Tucson back in 2013, and two additional scorpion species were discovered in Arizona in 2016. Although these recently discovered scorpion species are venomous, the well documented Arizona bark scorpion is likely the only species in the US that is capable of inflicting potentially deadly sting to humans. Due to widely available medical facilities in the US, fatalities from scorpion stings almost never occur in the country, but this has not always been the case.

The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center collects around 12,000 scorpion sting reports per year in the state, and this high number is due to the Arizona bark scorpion’s habit of gravitating onto residential properties where dangerous encounters are apt to occur. The last known fatality resulting from a scorpion sting in Arizona occurred in 2013, and the one before that occurred a decade earlier. However, in between the years of 1926 and 1964, the Arizona bark scorpion caused 75 human deaths, and while this species can be found in smaller numbers in neighboring states, all 75 of these fatalities occurred in Arizona. This clearly indicates that Arizona bark scorpions remain a major public health threat in their native region, but fatalities are rare today due to the advent of antivenin, which is often mistakenly referred to as “antivenom.” Antivenin is a medical treatment that can save the lives of those who sustain stings inflicted by Arizona bark scorpions, and all hospitals and medical clinics in the state stock large amounts of antivenin.

Have you ever encountered an Arizona bark scorpion within your home?

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The Dampwood Termite Species That Are Sometimes Mistaken For Highly Damaging Subterranean Termite Pests

The Dampwood Termite Species That Are Sometimes Mistaken For Highly Damaging Subterranean Termite Pests

The subterranean termite species that inhabit the southwest US are markedly different from termite species that can be found in all other regions of the US. This difference is due to the extremely dry climate in the southwest desert regions where the hard, rocky, and largely vegetation-free soil would see most other termite species perish within seconds after being exposed to such conditions. Generally, subterranean termites rely heavily on water in order to survive and develop properly, but subterranean termite species in Arizona have adapted to survive on relatively small amounts of water.

In addition to water, subterranean termites obviously rely on cellulose-rich plant matter that is abundant above and below the soil’s surface in all ecoregions in the US. These dead sources of plant matter include tree roots, tree stumps, dead trees, rotting plant stems, loose sticks and twigs, and of course, structural wood in homes and buildings. While these sources of dead plant matter may not be as abundant in the southwest as they are in other areas of the country, Arizona termite species have no problem locating dead and decaying plant materials in form of brush, dead citrus trees, savannah grass, tumbleweeds, and dead succulents like cacti.

Some termite species in Arizona, particularly the three relatively minor dampwood termite pest species in the state, have been well documented as feeding on the roots of live fruit trees and succulent plants. Although rare, some Arizona homeowners have noticed termite-induced damage to their ornamental landscaping plants, particularly succulent species. For example, the desert dampwood termite feeds on the sap of young citrus trees, grapevines, as well as live and dead shrubs, which provides these termites with the relatively high amounts of water they need to thrive.

Unlike most dampwood termite species, which inhabit single pieces of natural and finished wood sources above the ground, the desert dampwood termite feeds by girdling both living and dead plants below the soil’s surface. Due to this habit, homeowners sometimes mistake desert dampwood termites for subterranean termite species when moist fence posts, baseboards, and door frames sustain termite damage. However, swarming dampwood termite alates are unique for their relatively massive two inch body length, which dwarfs the ¼ to 1 inch long alates from both subterranean and drywood species. Dampwood termite species are not considered economically significant pests in Arizona.

Have you ever encountered a swarm of insects that appeared to be unusually large in size?

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Where Do Massive Cluster Fly Swarms Disappear To Within Arizona Homes During The Fall And Winter? Will The Flies Reemerge Unexpectedly At Some Point?

Where Do Massive Cluster Fly Swarms Disappear To Within Arizona Homes During The Fall And Winter? Will The Flies Reemerge Unexpectedly At Some Point?

Many fly pest species that closely resemble domestic houseflies are well established throughout the United States, and many of these species spread numerous disease-causing microorganisms. A large number of fly pests, such as stable flies, horse flies and deer flies, inflict painful bites to humans, but luckily, biting fly pests rarely establish indoor infestations. However, indoor fly pest issues are by no means uncommon anywhere in the US, especially Arizona. Unfortunately, many of the most common indoor fly pest species, including domestic house flies, blowflies and fruit flies, acquire dozens of dangerous pathogens from decaying organic matter in outdoor environments before entering homes where they may contaminate human food sources and indoor surfaces. Despite their filthy breeding, feeding and nesting habits, indoor fly pests rarely transmit pathogens to humans, but they can become a tremendous nuisance to homeowners, especially in Arizona where the climate allows fly pests to remain active all year round. One of the most common nuisance fly pest species, Pollenia rudis, is one of the few fly species that invades homes in large numbers in order to overwinter.

rudis is more commonly known as the “cluster fly,” or “attic fly” due to this species’ habit of clustering within obscure and hard-to-access indoor areas, particularly attic spaces. P. rudis is a type of blowfly, and although this species is traditionally regarded as the definitive cluster fly species, many other blow fly pest species in Arizona and elsewhere have become known by this common name. Cluster flies can invade homes during any time of year in the southwest, but they tend to swarm indoors during the fall and winter seasons in response to dropping temperatures. These fly pests often cluster in overwhelming numbers on the exterior walls of houses, especially in areas that are most heavily exposed to sunlight. After gaining access indoors through small cracks, crevices, attic vents and other exterior entry points, cluster flies tend to gather in wall voids and other inaccessible areas before entering a state of dormancy for the winter. Once spring arrives, the flies naturally emerge from their indoor refuges in order to swarm back outdoors, resulting in unexpected nuisance swarms within homes, often on unseasonably warm winter days. Liberal amounts of soil insecticide effectively eliminate cluster fly larvae before they emerge as adults.

Have you ever witnessed flies swarming near residential structures?

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Termite Warning Signs | Phoenix Termite Control

Termite Warning Signs | Phoenix Termite Control

Magic Pest offers the following signs that termites may be present in a home:

  1. Mud tubes (used by termites to reach a food source) on the exterior of the home.
  2. Soft wood in the home that sounds hollow when tapped.
  3. Darkening or blistering of wood structures.
  4. Cracked or bubbling paint.
  5. Small piles of feces that resemble sawdust near a termite nest.
  6. Discarded wings near doors or on windowsills, indicating swarmers have entered the home or swarmers themselves, which are often mistaken for flying ants.

Phoenix Termite Control Experts. Call Today For A Free Inspection!

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Why Some Homes See Repeated Spider Infestations While Others Don’t

Spiders do not generally establish extensive infestations within houses and buildings, but a few species are known for congregating in certain areas within homes. Since Arizona is home to the medically significant western black widow species, as well as five recluse spider species, not including the brown recluse, it is important for residents to identify the species of any spider/s that makes repeated appearances indoors. The relative abundance of vegetation, especially overgrown vegetation, surrounding homes is, perhaps, the most significant factor that can influence spider pest infestations within homes.

Spiders are attracted to residential yards due to the prevalence of their insect prey in gardens and lawn-grass. Some spiders capture insect prey with webs, while others have adapted to hunting down spiders on foot. Web-spinning spiders that are frequently found around and within homes include orb weavers, funnel weavers, cobweb spiders, house spiders, and black widows. Hunting spiders that are commonly found around homes include wolf spiders, crab spiders, wandering spiders, ground spiders and tarantulas. Web spinning spiders attach their silken webs to garden plants, tall overgrown weeds, shrubs and other forms of vegetation, while hunting spiders maintain a presence in yards and around gardens due to the abundance of insect food sources in vegetation-rich areas.

Spiders of all kinds are constantly present within all yards, and even in homes, but they become particularly numerous in yards where an abundance of vegetation indicates a high population of insect food sources. When vegetation becomes abundant around a home’s foundation, spiders often find a way indoors through cracks, crevices, crawl spaces, vents and a variety of other external entry points. This is why keeping shrubs and other forms of vegetation around a home’s foundation neatly trimmed will help to prevent spiders from wandering indoors.

Garden beds should be located about a foot away from a home’s foundation, and firewood should never be stacked against a home’s exterior walls. Outdoor lighting attracts insect pests, which in turn, attracts spider pests to homes, but using yellow incandescent and sodium vapor lamps in place of white incandescent and mercury vapor lamps will help to reduce both insect and spider population numbers on a property.

Have you had success at reducing arthropod pests around your home with yellow light bulbs?

 

 

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El Mirage Home Infested With Hundreds Of Cockroaches And Other Bugs

El Mirage Home Infested With Hundreds Of Cockroaches And Other Bugs

If you ever want to make your home completely unlivable, get arrested for endangering human lives, and fill it with so many cockroaches that the floor crunches when you walk on it, then do exactly what these two women living in El Mirage did. A mother and her adult daughter were arrested by the police recently and are being charged with child abuse, as their were also young children living with them, because their house had basically been turned into a literal pig sty.

Carmen Sanfie, age 52, her daughter Connie Marie Valencia, age 35, and their three young girls, ranging in age from 7 to 14 years old, were visited by police after they were informed of a possible incident of domestic violence. Police were horrified at what they saw when they entered the home. It was absolutely filthy, filled with feces and a massive infestation of hundreds of cockroaches. The police were shocked at the amount of animal urine and feces, provided by the family’s five cats and three dogs, they found all over the home. It was smeared on the floor and lay in piles all throughout the house. The unsanitary nature of the home made it a perfect habitat for cockroaches. Cockroaches seek out unsanitary conditions when looking for places to colonize, and these ones had officially found the jackpot. This is why the infestation was so massive. They had basically found a dumpster to live and breed in. The number of cockroach infestation was comfortably in the hundreds, with so many cockroaches, as well as other insects that had jumped on this opportunity, that when the police walked inside, the floor crunched under their feet as they walked on a carpet of roaches. It is no surprise that these two women are being charged with child abuse since the three children were witnessed by the police walking barefoot around the feces and roach-covered floor.

What is the largest cockroach infestation you have ever seen?

 

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Which Mosquito-Borne Diseases Are Emerging In Urban And Suburban Areas In Arizona?

Which Mosquito-Borne Diseases Are Emerging In Urban And Suburban Areas In Arizona?

Mosquitoes have not always been a major public health threat in Arizona, but now that the West Nile virus has become permanently established in the southern half of the state, it has become more important than ever for residents to apply mosquito repellent and to stay aware of mosquito-borne disease trends around the state. This year has seen an unprecedented number of West Nile Virus cases in Arizona, most of which have occured in Maricopa County. As of October 18th, the number of confirmed and suspected cases of West Nile virus in Arizona is 383, and this figure only includes 2019 cases. Of these cases, 17 have resulted in death. Due to the sudden appearance of West Nile cases in Arizona, many residents are concerned that additional mosquito-borne diseases may become common in the state in coming years. Unfortunately, many of the mosquito species that inhabit urban areas of Arizona are capable of carrying multiple diseases that have not been known to infect humans in the state.

Several mosquito species, both urban and rural, carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Culex tarsalis and Culex quinquefasciatus are two urban mosquito species that transmit the majority of West Nile infections in Arizona, but Culex tarsalis is significant for transmitting a number of different diseases to humans in various parts of the world. In Arizona, this species can transmit a number of encephalitic diseases to humans, and they transmit both St. Louis encephalitis and western equine encephalitis sporadically in Arizona, but the latter disease is more common in horses and livestock. Aedes aegypti is another mosquito species of concern in Arizona, as this species spreads the Zika virus as well as dengue fever. This species has transmitted both of these viruses along the Gulf Coast in recent years, but neither disease is endemic to Arizona. However, experts believe that this is likely to change in the coming years due to the abundance of A. aegypti throughout the state, and many researchers believe that the establishment of dengue fever in the state may be unavoidable in the future.

Do you think that the Zika virus and/or dengue fever will become common in Arizona before 2030?

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The Most Commonly Encountered Ticks In Arizona

The Most Commonly Encountered Ticks In Arizona

Ticks are a major public health threat in some parts of the country, and while Arizona is home to several tick species, some of which spread disease, there are only four species that residents of the state commonly encounter. These tick species include the brown dog tick, the American dog tick, the rocky mountain wood tick, and the adobe tick. Unlike the other three species, the adobe tick is a “soft tick” from the Argasidae family. Of these four ticks, the brown dog tick may be the most dangerous tick to humans due to it ability to live entirely indoors and spread disease to humans. Since ticks have four pairs of legs, they are arachnids, and unlike the arachnids most people encounter in homes and elsewhere, ticks are parasitic organisms that feed on human blood, similar to mites, which are also categorized as arachnids. In order for ticks to survive, they must feed on the blood of their vertebrate hosts, including humans and a variety of other mammals, as well as birds.

Surprisingly, ticks are the most common arthropods that transmit vector-borne diseases in the US. When a tick feeds on a human, it becomes engorged with blood, but they extract all of the water from the blood before injecting it back into the human body. This means that ticks inject about 75 percent of the fluids they gather back into the human bloodstream, allowing them to efficiently transmit a variety of disease-causing organisms into the human body. These disease-causing organisms include bacteria, protozoa, viruses, spirochetes, rickettsiae, nematodes, and toxins. A tick bite can transmit pathogens while also putting a person at risk of developing a secondary infection, and some people are allergic to tick saliva, making them capable of causing serious allergic reactions, and possibly anaphylactic shock.

For residents of Arizona, the brown dog tick poses the greatest threat because this species feeds on dogs, which allows them to hitchhike into homes where they are capable of completing their entire life cycle. Adult brown dog ticks can survive for 18 months, while larvae can survive for eight months without feeding. Once indoors, brown dog ticks eventually detach from the skin of dogs and jump onto walls where they can then jump onto passing humans. Indoor brown dog tick infestations are not uncommon, but they can be prevented by regularly checking pets for ticks, keeping grass cut short, and allowing the sun to shine in shaded parts of a lawn, as ticks avoid sunlight.

Have you ever found a tick on your dog?